Fortean / Oddball News: Ancient UFOs, Horse Mutilation and 2060 Diamonds in Man's Stomach

Tracing Ancient UFO Reports

msnbc - Alan Boyle writes: One of the best-known scientific sleuths of UFO sightings is focusing his search not on today's flying saucers, but on the sky wonders of antiquity.

Jacques Vallee, the French-born computer whiz and venture capitalist who also served as the model for Francois Truffaut's UFO-hunting character in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," says such sightings show that the UFO phenomenon did not start in 1947. He's a co-author of a newly published book, "Wonders in the Sky," that lists 500 unexplained aerial observations dating back as far as 1460 B.C. and going up to the dawn of the industrial age in 1879. (That 500th case involved an unknown "airship" that was sighted over eastern Iowa, where I grew up. Coincidence? I think not.)

Vallee and fellow researcher Chris Aubeck also delve into longstanding UFO legends that they've excluded from their list for various reasons. For example, take the story about Alexander the Great seeing a flying object that shot out a blaster ray. "We traced the story and discovered it was about the use of gunpowder, not an unexplained flying object," Aubeck and Vallee write.

About 90 percent of UFO reports turn out to have perfectly natural explanations, but Vallee says the reports that remain unexplained are provocative enough that they deserve more thoroughgoing study. He stated his case this week during a telephone conversation. By the way, when he points out that the modern flying-saucer era began in my "neck of the woods," he's not talking about eastern Iowa, but about western Washington, where is headquartered. (Coincidence? I think not.)

Here's an edited transcript: Continue reading at Tracing Ancient UFO Reports


Sri Lankan Arrested in India With 2060 Diamonds in Stomach

BBC - Police in India have arrested a Sri Lankan man with 2,060 diamonds and other precious stones in his stomach.

The man was arrested on arrival at the airport in the southern city of Madras (Chennai) on Tuesday, police said.

The stones - estimated to be worth between $337,000 (£211,747) and $674,000 (£423,485) - have been recovered, police said.

Once doctors confirmed the presence of stones in his body, the man was fed laxatives and bananas to eject them.

Senior police officer in Madras SR Jangid told a press conference he received a call about the man on Tuesday morning from a "reliable informant".

The man had successfully cleared the customs and immigration and a search of his bags did not yield anything, police said.

"Even during questioning, he could not sit comfortably and when questioned, he told the police that he was suffering from piles," the Times of India newspaper quoted Mr Jangid as saying.

"The police grew suspicious and took him to Chromepet Government Hospital. When doctors examined him, they found the stones lodged in his gut."

Mr Jangid said the stones were stored in 42 condoms and it took the police six hours to retrieve them.


Argentina: A Horse Mutilation in Pueblo Esther

Date: October 28, 2010

Argentina: Horse Mutilation in Pueblo Esther
By Andrea Simondini, Vision OVNI

Scott Corrales - Inexplicata - Pueblo Esther is a small community to the south of Rosario in the Province of Santa Fe, which has accustomed us to news stories concerning the UFO phenomenon.

Several persons claim having seen lights in the fields, ad the locality indeed boasts a significant case history.

On this occasion, the news involves the appearance of a mutilated animal, specifically a young horse, found with the typical inscision to its jaw, total extraction of the eyeball and excision of the ear canal and the tongue, leaving the hyoid bones expones.

The case was reported by Fernando Schienke, who found the horse in a field near his home. Astonished by the injuries to the specimen, he tried to find information about them.

The animal was found on October 17, 2010 and we are still waiting for more details from the witness. In the meantime, we are disclosing a series of details on the investigation. A series of photos will show the aspects to be kept in mind when investigating mutilation cases.

We can quickly observe that the wound presents a net incision with tissue dehydration and in some parts, removal of hair down to the skin along the cut. The type of incision can be clearly made out in a magnified photo. There is neither tearing nor remnants of tissue on the bone, which turns out to be one of the differentiating factors.

The presence of flies: this factor is very interesting, since many pathologists argue that the loss of soft tissue is due to phagocytosis by fly larvae. These photos show how flies begin to work on the animal’s carcass. No colonies of bacteria are visible, no fly larvae. This indicates the insects’ first contact with the carcass. However, the wounds are as latent as the incisions.

Over years of investigation we have been able to establish some basic patterns, the start of action by flies, the carrion animals that appear first, such as the wild boar, as well as some birds. However, all of them appear some 72 hours after an animal presenting these injuries has been found.

Birds tend to make their mark through feces on the back of the animal. We are expecting more details on the case with a follow-up of the area. This incident is a test case for Vision Ovni, as the town of Pueblo Esther is an area of multiple sightings, and a very important item of information for research as a whole.


Newly Discovered Gene Enables Fish To 'Disappear'

underwatertimes - Researchers led by Vanderbilt's Roger Cone, Ph.D., have discovered a new member of a gene family that has powerful influences on pigmentation and the regulation of body weight.

The gene is the third member of the agouti family. Two agouti genes have been identified previously in humans. One helps determine skin and hair color, and the other may play an important role in obesity and diabetes.

The new gene, called agrp2, has been found exclusively in bony fish, including zebrafish, trout and salmon. The protein it encodes enables fish to change color dramatically to match their surroundings, the researchers report this week in the early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

"When my graduate student, Youngsup Song, discovered a third agouti protein in the fish pineal gland, an organ that regulates daily rhythms in response to light, we initially thought we had found the pathway that regulates hunger diurnally," said Cone, chair of the Department of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics and director of the Vanderbilt Institute for Obesity and Metabolism.

"That is the mechanism that makes you hungry during the day, but not at night," he continued. "However, Chao Zhang, a graduate student who followed up the study, ultimately discovered that this agouti protein … is involved in the rapid pigment changes that allow fish to adapt to their environment."

This phenomenon, called background adaptation, also has been observed in mammals. The coat of the arctic hare, for example, turns from brown in summer to white camouflage against the winter snow.

In contrast to mammals that have to grow a new coat to adapt to a changing environment, fish, amphibians and reptiles can change their skin color in a matter of minutes.

The first agouti gene, which produces the striped "agouti" pattern in many mammals, was discovered in 1993. The same year, Cone and his colleagues at Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland reported the discovery of the gene that encoded the melanocortin-1 receptor, a key player in the pigmentation story.

They demonstrated that the agouti protein prevented the melanocortin-1 receptor in melanocytes (pigment cells) in the skin from switching on production of black-brown pigment, and instead shifted the pigment to yellow-red hues.

The second agouti gene encodes agouti-related protein (AgRP), which blocks a melanocortin receptor in the brain. It prevents the melanocortin-4 receptor from inhibiting food intake, and thus stimulates eating.

In the current paper, Cone's group reports that the newly discovered protein, AgRP2, regulates expression of the prohormone genes pmch and pmchl, precursors to melanin-concentrating hormone, which has a pigment-lightening effect.

"Together, the versatile agouti proteins and melanocortin receptors are responsible for regulation of body weight, the banded patterns of mammalian coats, and even red hair in most people," Cone said. The current work shows that agouti proteins are also involved in the camouflage mechanisms used in thousands of fish species.

Cone, who came to Vanderbilt in 2008, has spent most of his career studying how the melanocortin receptors in the brain regulate body weight. He and his colleagues have published more than three dozen papers elucidating elements of this complex signaling system.

Zhang is the first author of the PNAS paper, a collaborative effort of scientists from the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences, the University of California at Santa Cruz, the University of Oregon, as well as Vanderbilt.

The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health and the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation.
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